2020 Ford Explorer

Versatility for sixth generation Explorer

Roseville, CA – A classic Ford vehicle for three decades, the Explorer moves into another classification this year: hybrid.

The all-new 2020 Ford Explorer hybrid comes with some definite pluses, fuel economy (25-28 mpg) among the most notable. But there has been some pushback from potential buyers who are getting a dose of sticker shock.

The midsize Explorer hybrid sport utility vehicle starts at roughly $52,400, a hefty price when matched against most of its competitors. Many smaller hybrid SUVs cost much less and a number of midsize hybrids – including some luxury brands – have lower price tags.

The Explorer offers three rows of seating and can accommodate six people, making the new Explorer more passenger-friendly than the one it replaces. Other positives are good cargo space, plenty of standard features and delivering a smooth ride.

Interior of 2020 Ford Explorer

Ford has a sizable history with the Explorer, an immediate star when it debuted in 1990 with 159,626 in sales. It was still extremely popular 10 years later when a record 445,157 were sold in 2000. Sales dipped to a low of 52,190 during the 2009 recession when smaller vehicles were all the rage, yet climbed back to high levels with 2019 (184,653) the lowest sales total in seven years.

Entering its sixth generation, the latest Explorer heads in a new direction with a hybrid option that offers approximately 500 miles in range, thanks to its increased fuel economy and a large 18.2 gas tank. Even the hybrid model has versatility, towing up to 5,000 pounds and offering a Trailer Tow package that includes a receiver hitch, tow-haul transmission mode, and additional features that are beneficial when off-roading.

The 2020 Explorer has switched back to rear-wheel drive, while the body retains unibody construction. Ford says the rear-wheel drive improves handling and overall balance. Safety is a high priority as well, offering standard lane keeping assistance, forward collision warning, pedestrian detection, cross-traffic and blind-spot monitoring, automated emergency braking, automatic high beams, and driver drowsiness monitoring,

AT A GLANCE – 2020 Ford Explorer hybrid

  • Performance: hybrid 3.3-liter, V6, 318 horsepower
  • Mileage estimate: 25-28 mpg
  • Price estimate: $52,400
  • Warranty: 3 years/36,000 miles; drivetrain: 5 years/60,000 miles; roadside assistance: 5 years/60,000; corrosion: 5 years/unlimited

The Explorer hybrid has a 1.5-kwh lithium-ion battery pack that’s stored under the second-row seat. It has an electric motor and a 3.3-liter, V6 engine that generates 318 horsepower and 322 pound-feet of torque. It’s not the quickest SUV, going 0-60 mph in 7.7 seconds.

Interior

The interior receives mixed reviews. The Explorer has an 8.0-inch information screen that is easy to access and fairly well organized. However, the SYNC 3 system could be more intuitive – some functions require too much attention. Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and 12-speaker Bang & Olufsen audio system are all standard.

Front seat occupants get solid leg and head room, and reside in comfort. The same can’t be said for the second and third rows where legroom is tight. The cargo area is a roomy 18.2 cubic feet and when the two rows are folded down the storage area is a cavernous 87.8 feet.

Cost is the biggest obstacle facing the 2020 Ford Explorer hybrid. It is a good first effort by Ford, yet falls short when stacked up against some of the competition.